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Examining the Causes of Variation between States Safe Drinking Water Act Violations




Chen, Xi

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Political Science

Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



Water quality is a daily essential concern for residents. The Environmental Protection Agency has established health-related rules under the Safe Drinking Water Act to protect tap water quality and require all public water systems to comply with these standards. However, violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act have been detected and documented over the years by public water systems. Many studies that examine the causes of Safe Drinking Water Act violations have been conducted through a micro lens, i.e., regional or case studies performed on specific public water systems. Beyond these micro-level studies, state comparisons of Safe Drinking Water Act violations can provide a better overview of which perspective leads to the state’s variation in violations. The study on state variation is also important for the federal agency because federal agency sets the minimum standards based on a state’s report. By conducting the state/year analysis, the federal agency has the reference to draw upon to redesign or develop minimum standards for state as well as to what extent each perspective that has impact on the violations should be emphasized on. Yet, it is less clear what factors may cause the states’ variation in Safe Drinking Water Act violations. Recognizing this gap, this dissertation tries to uncover the causes of variation between states’ Safe Drinking Water Act violations from 1993 to 2016. This dissertation adopts data mainly from Safe Drinking Water Information System to test a novel framework with a series of statistical models. Results indicate that the missions of the public water systems, policies, political and economic conditions, administrative factors, and demographic factors are significantly associated with the states’ variations in Safe Drinking Water Act violations.